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Newsflash: Fight against new Limpopo coal power station raises key climate change and water issues

16 July 2015 at 3:00 pm

Earthlife Africa protesters in Johannesburg on 15 May 2015
Earthlife Africa protesters in Johannesburg on 15 May 2015
Earthlife Africa protesters in Johannesburg on 15 May 2015

Earthlife Africa protestors in Johannesburg on 15 May 2015

Earlier this week, attorneys in the Centre for Environmental Rights’ Pollution & Climate Change team filed further papers on behalf of environmental justice group Earthlife Africa Johannesburg in their battle to stop yet another coal-fired power station from being built in water-stressed Limpopo.

Earthlife opposes the approval granted for the proposed 1200MW Thabametsi coal-fired power station near Lephalale in the Waterberg on a number of grounds, including climate change impacts and the lack of available water in the area:

  1. The power station would be built in the Waterberg, an area of Limpopo that is already so water-stressed that the Department of Water and Sanitation is pumping water into it as part of the Mokolo Crocodile Water Augmentation Project to supply industry and residents with water.
  2. The project would fall within an area where air quality is of such concern that it has been declared a priority area under the national Air Quality Act.
  3. The project fails to take into account the state’s international and national obligations to mitigate and take positive steps against climate change. Not only would a new coal-fired power station contribute to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions, but it would also use precious freshwater already threatened by the impacts of climate change, making it even harder for residents and future generations living in Limpopo to withstand the impacts of climate change.
  4. There was a failure to consider feasible and reasonable alternatives to building another coal-fired power station, such as renewable energy – including solar.
  5. The DEA failed to take into account the cumulative impacts of the project and additional industrial and other activities in the area. Two Eskom coal-fired power stations, Medupi and Matimba, are situated within 15km of the project site. The site is also close to the Grootgeluk coal mine.
  6. The DEA failed to give effect to the Constitutional right to an environment not harmful to health or well-being, and to apply the principles set out in the National Environmental Management Act, which govern all government decisions that significantly impact the environment.

The Minister must now decide the appeal within 90 days.  This would mean that a decision on the appeal, should the Minister not need to obtain any further information, will be due in mid-October 2015.

For copies of annexures, please email [email protected].

For more information, see Media Release: Earthlife Africa’s appeal pushes back new coal-fired power station in water-stressed Limpopo, 18 May 2015.

Our Pollution & Climate Change Team: Robyn Hugo (programme head), Sylvia Kamanja (attorney), Nicole Löser (attorney) and Nathan Philander (candidate attorney).